Like many dogs, Lois has a few internal alarm clocks. Unlike most dogs, none of Lois’s have anything to do with food. Lois is entirely driven by people and play.
CONFESSION: I do not read as much as I should.
It’s a shameful thing, for a number of reasons. First, it’s an incontrovertible fact that writers must always be reading. It’s part of the deal. You can’t grow your craft without any outside influence. No one’s brain can improve upon itself. You have to feed it.
When fretting about time, which often I do – whether or not I have enough time for all the tasks at hand, whether not I have enough tasks to fill the time, whether something I want or need will be found in time for a deadline or my own satisfaction – I think about Jane Austen.
In an Austen novel, every period of time – between visits, between news, between one activity and the next – is measured, not in minutes or hours, but in weeks. Weeks. From Pride & Prejudice:
There’s this fitted sheet in our linen collection that just doesn’t work right. It seems fine. It fits when you put it on, and then, in the middle of the night, instigated by who knows what, the corners snap up. My husband and I fall asleep in our normal, cozy bed, and wake up tangled in loose sheet with nothing but a scratchy mattress pad below us. It’s the worst.
To make matters worse (yes, there is more to this story), we can never remember which fitted sheet does this to us. We have four or five sheet sets, and they’re all various shades of blue, green and teal. So it’s always a surprise. When we wake up that random morning, all groggy and itchy and tangled and confused, we’re like, “Whelp. It’s this one. This is the horrible sheet.”
During a recent presentation to college students about entrepreneurship in the arts, I asked the class what they thought a freelance writer did with her time all day. Their guesses included “thinking about character development” and “writing,” and bless their hearts, that would be amazing. But as any freelance writer can attest, the business of pitching stories, research, contacting sources, waiting for sources to call back and interviewing sources takes up the bulk of one’s life. So much, in fact, that I often (or, rather, daily) find myself with this problem: I feel so accomplished by the time I finally hang up the phone after an interview call, that I’m all, “Done! I’m finished! Let’s go fishing or whatever!”
There are somethings I do, even though I don’t really see the point of doing them. LinkedIn. Eating Asian food with chopsticks. Teaching every dog I’ve had to give me high five. They don’t benefit me in any way, but they seem like something people do, they don’t take too much effort, so I do them.
Adages about not putting things off until tomorrow are as numerous as they are universal. It seems to be part of the human condition to come up with reasons to not do things at the present moment. Because we all live busy lives, there is often a reason that we’re just too over-booked/sleep-deprived/frazzled to do what we need to do today.